“Preach the Word: be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge the duties of your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4: 2 – 5
I read these verses in my devotional time this morning while doing a self-study on patience. I was struck by how appropriate these verses are for our times. It seems that almost daily I read about laws being passed or courts rulings being handed down that are opposed to God’s Word. Yet, those making the laws and the rulings claim to be acting for the best interest of our nation and trying to do what is ‘right.’ I believe that most of them do believe they are acting to correct injustice and bring about fairness. The problem is that they are using human reasoning without basing their decisions on a foundation of truth. As Paul told Timothy, they have found ‘teachers’ who will tell them what they want to hear, and these teachers provide them with justification for making decisions that are contrary to God’s teachings.
Most of these decisions have to do with morality. Sexual immorality is not merely tolerated, but celebrated, as the freedom to do as one pleases. Abortion is hailed as giving women the right to have control over their own bodies. Divorce allows couples to easily dissolve their unions and go their separate ways in the search happiness. Proponents of these views include many who claim to be teachers of the gospel. Rather than teaching, correcting, and rebuking those in their charge, these false teachers have given into liberal viewpoints and and political correctness; they are seeking to build their own kingdoms by telling their congregations “what their itching ears want to hear.”
Paul charged Timothy to preach the truth. Biblical truths are not meant to ease our conscience and allow us to sin without guilt or remorse. Instead, they were given to convict us when we go astray and lead us back onto the straight and narrow path that leads to God. Those called to be ministers and evangelists are charged with correcting, rebuking, instructing, and training their flocks and to do so “with great patience and careful instruction.”
In the previous chapter of this letter, Paul wrote, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 If we are to become the people God intends us to be, we need to spend time daily in God’s Word. We need to read the Bible and allow it’s truths to penetrate our hearts–to rebuke us when we go astray, correct us when we are in error, and instruct us how to live in a manner that pleases God. And we need ministers who will teach sound doctrine–the truths of God’s Word. In this way, we will avoid chasing myths and can be equipped to do the good work that God has called each of us to do.